Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and its characters. No copyright infringement is intended. The rest is my original work. Please do not use or post it elsewhere without my consent. I'm only posting this disclaimer once.
So much love and thanks to my beta, Besotted. She's become such a great friend, and she's helped me through this editing business with open arms. More love and thanks to my BFF pre-reader, Twaffle. I wouldn't have done this without either of your support.
This story will be written entirely in EPOV.
I've been standing in line for three hours and I am seriously contemplating whether or not I should amuse myself by intentionally growling out loud, just so I can watch the reactions of the people around me. I've brought one of the many valuable possessions I own to Antiques Roadshow. When I was changed from a human into a vampire in 1918, Carlisle, my creator for all intents and purposes, made sure that I was able to keep what I could of my parents and childhood. I've had the sentimental pieces stored in my old Chicago home ever since.
After I was changed, I retained a very limited amount of my human memories. I've recently found myself wondering if there was any way for me to feel closer to or learn more about my parents. When I heard that PBS was going to be filming in Chicago today at the Navy Pier Convention Center, I decided I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by. I'd like for someone with a broad knowledge of early 20th Century pieces to examine my antiques. I'm also a huge fan of Antiques Roadshow. Old antiques are fascinating to me, not only because of their history, but because I am one.
I've brought my father's only pocket watch with me today. With my keen vampire eyesight, I can tell that it's in excellent condition, but I'm really looking forward to a professional opinion. As long as I don't have an amorous appraiser screaming their lewd thoughts at me, I'll be set.
It's currently two pm, and I'm the last person standing in line for the watch appraiser. I am able to read the minds of those around me (this ability can be both a blessing and a curse) and today, it is grating on my nerves. I'm usually able to filter out most thoughts, but these people are incessant today.
The woman in the Glass line adjacent to me is holding a knockoff Tiffany lamp (even I can tell it's a knockoff) and she keeps checking out my ass. I mean, I know I have a nice ass, but this woman is in her fifties. She's thinking about propositioning me but she doesn't want to lose her place in line. Thank God for small miracles, because she's also thinking about whether or not she should char grill squirrel or rabbit for dinner.
The gentleman in front of me smells like chicken livers and he keeps singing. He's specifically singing a verse from Kiss the Girl. You know, from The Little Mermaid.
"Sha la la la la la
Don't be scared
You got the mood prepared
Go on and kiss the girl"
He is singing the same verse, over and over, under his breath. He's trying to copy Sebastian's Jamaican accent and he's failing miserably. I'm kind of amused, but I also want to tell him to shut the hell up at the same time. I won't do it, though. Causing a stranger embarrassment in front of the masses isn't how I roll.
I've been in this line since 11 am and I'm about to go out of my mind. Whoever said that vampires have endless patience was on crack. I'm currently four people back right now. So close.
I begin to inhale yet another sigh when the sweetest, most alluring scent invades my senses. Lavender and a hint of vanilla. It's beautiful, exotic and potent, but not overwhelming, and I find myself leaning to the side, trying to locate its source. My eyes finally get a chance to wander to the watch appraiser, and I'm instantly stunned. I wasn't prepared to see such an exquisite beauty. And I definitely wasn't prepared for her thoughts.
Mike Newton's getting nut punched. He's the item coordinator. What made him think it was necessary to place so many electronic pocket watches in my line? He knows most are damn near worthless. And why do I smell chicken livers? Gross.
Her thoughts blast into my head, and I laugh out loud. She's genuinely polite with the elderly woman who brought in the 22nd electronic pocket watch of the day, but she's clearly fed up.
I really should have eaten breakfast this morning. I wasn't prepared to go…oh, hell…18 hours, without food. I need to stop forgetting to eat. Oh well, it doesn't look like I have many more appraisals to get through before we finish for the day.
This woman's thoughts instantly concern me. I know humans need regular sustenance, and 18 hours is a rather long stretch of time to go without. I immediately wonder why I even care. I don't normally give much thought to humans or their dietary needs, but for some reason, this woman genuinely intrigues me. She has the sweetest voice, both in thought and while speaking. I can't wait to fully see her face and be close to her, which throws me for a loop. I've never had this reaction to any woman before, human or vampire.
Finally, Chicken Liver is up next, and I pray he doesn't have an electronic pocket watch in his hands. I want to meet the beauty in front of him before she flips out. Fortunately, he has brought a rare, vintage Cartier Art Deco watch from 1913. The watch is in excellent condition and would, at auction, sell for approximately $5,500.
What a delightful watch. I love when I get to handle an antique that comes from a line with so much history. It's so fascinating. It almost makes up for the guy reeking of chicken livers. Almost.
The watch appraiser speaks with an absolute reverence for the man's Cartier watch, and it pleases me to no end that she is so intelligent and loves what she does for a living. I don't come across many humans who are truly happy with their job, and it is refreshing to witness such appreciation and thirst for knowledge as this woman has.
Only a few more seconds, and I'll be face to face with her. Finally, she thanks the gentleman for bringing in his watch and bids him farewell.
And then she looks up at me, and our eyes meet. And I am done for.
This woman is the epitome of beautiful and sensual. She has dark brown eyes, long, dark brunette hair, an ivory complexion, a petite frame, curves in all the right places…and she has me utterly under her spell. I am the Ariel to her Ursula, I think to myself before deciding that sounds wrong. I really think I need to speak.
Wow, he's so handsome. My day has certainly gotten… wait a minute. Is he holding a Patek Philippe original? I can't be this lucky! I've only ever seen one in photographs before!
I smile broadly at her thoughts. She is so different from what I would normally expect. Of course, on the surface, she acknowledges my attractiveness as all humans do, which doesn't bother me in the slightest coming from her. But she is clearly more interested in my watch than she is in me, and this shocks me. As a vampire, everything about me lures people in, and in theory, it should be me that she finds exciting, but that's not the case.
"Hello, my name is Edward Cullen," I say with a smile, while shaking her delicate hand. I make my way to sit next to her and her thoughts continue to invade my mind.
Edward…what an old-fashioned name.
"It's nice to meet you, Edward, I'm Isabella Swan, but please, call me Bella," she says, and I long to tell her that her name could never do her beauty justice. But that would be much too forward on my part, so instead, I smile pleasantly at her and inquire as to how she's doing. It's my very subtle attempt at letting her know I'm interested.
Wow, what a beautiful smile, and he's so polite. But while I'd really love to sit around and chat, I'm more interested in looking at his pocket watch.
Her thoughts make me smile even more, and I wait for her to take the lead. I offhandedly notice that we are being filmed, and I wonder if Bella's excitement over my watch has drawn the camera to us.
"Tell me, Edward," Bella says, as she turns her full attention to me. "How did you come to be in possession of the watch we're looking at today?"
"Well, my father was given this pocket watch while he and my mother were visiting my grandfather in Minnesota," I say in answer to her question. "My grandfather owned the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch back in 1914. After my parents died, the watch was handed down to me."
Bella's brows draw together marginally and her lips form a small frown.
Oh, he's lost his parents. Now I feel bad for asking.
Her concern truly touches me, and I find myself looking intently into her eyes, wondering what else might be hidden there. She never breaks eye contact with me. Her previous frown turns into a soft, shy smile, and she proceeds with her assessment.
"It's a stunning watch. It's manufactured by the Patek Philippe Company of Geneva, Switzerland, which was founded in 1851. It has a split chronograph, so you can consecutively time the hour and minute. It also has a minute repeater which chimes the time down to the minute, using separate tones for hours, quarter hours, and minutes. Minute repeaters originated before widespread artificial illumination, to allow the time to be determined in the dark. They were also used by the visually impaired."
Jesus, she knows what she is doing. I find myself getting seriously turned on by the amount of detail she knows. Her mind is something else. I fix my full attention on Bella as her sharp, knowing eyes quietly appraise my watch. Her fingers trace its contours and she sighs in appreciation as she turns it over.
"Here we have the day, the date and the month along with the moon phase," she says, while pointing out more of the details of the watch to me. "It's also a perpetual calendar which adjusts for leap year."
She pauses for a moment, studying the watch thoughtfully before delivering her final assessment. "Overall, I'd say you're in possession of one very complex watch, which also happens to be in superb condition."
I notice her eyes are bright with excitement and she is practically vibrating right in front of me. She gently lays my watch face up in the box and sets the box on a small stand so the cameraman can continue to film it. She looks back up at me then with an eager grin. I think I even see her fingers twitching, she is so amped up. I am about to ask her if she's had too much caffeine today when she speaks again.
"Have you ever had the watch appraised?" she asks. "Do you have any idea of its current worth?"
Oh my God, I can't wait to tell him the value! This is one of the best parts of my job.
"No, I don't know much about it, really. My best guess is it's worth around $5,000 dollars."
Bella looks at me out of wide, surprised eyes, a broad smile still gracing her face.
"Oh, Edward, that's a little low."
"It is?" I say, truly unaware of my watch's estimated value.
"Yes, just a bit. Patek Philippe is now purchasing these watches for display in their museum. Since this watch comes with the original box and crystals, at auction, I suspect it would bring close to a quarter-million dollars."
I sit very still, completely stunned by Bella's words.
His face is priceless right now. You can't buy that look of shock. This is awesome!
Bella has just informed me that my father's watch is worth $250,000, which is a great deal of money. Of course, having been a vampire for as long as I have, I've amassed that number many times over. The truth is, sitting here today, the monetary value of my father's watch means very little to me. Bella's reaction to his watch is worth so much more. The beautiful smile is still on her face, and I want to keep it there.
"Oh, wow. That's incredible! I can't believe it's worth so much," I say. "My father would have been thrilled, I'm sure."
Bella reaches out to take the box off the stand at the same time as my hands make to do the same, and our fingers brush together. I can't help but let them linger. Inexplicably, I am hungry for her touch. Her eyes flash to mine in surprise, and I hastily draw them away, mumbling an apology in return.
"This is the finest watch I think I've ever seen," she says as I settle my hands safely on the box in my lap. And if I'm not mistaken, her voice trembles in the slightest. Was it my touch alone that evoked such a pleasant reaction in her? I wonder…I hope. And then she turns her quick wit and humor on me, bringing our exchange back to the norm.
"I'd definitely recommend insuring it and keeping it in a very safe place. And whatever you do, don't drop it," she adds with a wink.
I chuckle at her comment and agree that having butterfingers would be disastrous, but I assure her that I have great reflexes. If only she knew the half of it, I think to myself. Vampire reflexes are unparalleled, and there's not even the slightest possibility that I could drop my father's watch.
The cameraman stops taping and moves off in another direction to begin another set in the Folk Art section. I am not ready to leave Bella's side and I immediately begin thinking of ways to maintain our contact. I am desperate not to let our time together come to an end. I feel a strong connection with Bella, and while these new feelings catch me off guard, I can't let them scare me. There is no question about it - I am interested in this human woman despite the fact that never happens. I know I have to think fast and act quickly to try and come up with a plan to prolong our time together. Now is definitely the time for me to make my move, if I even have moves. I've never done this before, and I am nervous.
"Your enthusiasm is infectious, you know," I say, in an attempt to keep our conversation going. She has to know that her passion for her job only enhanced my experience here and that she is truly good at what she does for a living.
"Thank you, Edward, that's very kind of you," she says with a genuine smile. She's beautiful…simply beautiful. "I have to say though, I looked at 22 duds before I came across your magnificent watch. You really broke the monotony and gave me something to get excited about."
Hopefully, what I'm about to say next will excite her even more. How do people do this in real life, I fret. What if she rejects me? What if she has a boyfriend, or has other plans? What if she isn't allowed to fraternize with Roadshow clientele? Is that what I am? Jesus, I feel sick…
Bella leans toward me, curiously examining my face. She seems puzzled by my lack of response and sudden bout of nerves. Her lips pucker in concern before they part and she speaks again.
"Edward? Are you okay?" she asks, her voice laced with concern.
"Would you like to go out for lunch or grab a cup of coffee with me?" I blurt out, wincing at my choice of words. God, that was lame, but all I could think to say were the horrible lines drunken frat boys with no manners use to pick up women in bars. And I certainly wasn't going to use one of those on her.
Bella pauses, clearly not expecting me to ask her out. Her eyes study mine as she carefully considers my proposal, a soft smile playing on her face. I really try giving her some privacy while she thinks, but I can't help but eavesdrop on her thoughts. Thankfully, she appears just as interested in me as I am in her, and she welcomes my invitation with a wide smile.
"I'd love to, Edward," she says, and I believe her response is genuine. I exhale a sigh of relief.
"Excellent. Where would you like to go?" The truth is Bella could lead me wherever she wanted, and I'd follow.
"There's a Bandera Restaurant on Michigan Avenue that I love, would you mind if we go there?"
"Lead the way, My Lady," I say, while bowing slightly. I wince again. Now I sound like I belong in the Renaissance era. I don't think I'll ever get this right.
Oh, he's too cute for words. A girl could get used to this kind of treatment. A man's never bowed to me before. I think I'll up the ante.
"Would you mind assisting me, My Lord?" she asks, surprising me.
I could kiss her right now for playing along with me. I offer her my elbow, and she hooks her arm around mine. She smiles up at me with such warmth, her eyes shining with mirth, and I am once again lost. I am so entranced that I forget that we are even walking, and I lead My Lady right into a plate glass window.
I am so screwed.